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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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thankyou

Freedom Isn’t Free

Every May 1 Americans honor the sacrifices of the combat wounded, ill and dying service members on Silver Star Service Banner Day. The history of the service banner dates back to 1917 or 1918, following the suggestions of Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defenses.  The use of Blue and Gold Star Service Banners was formally adopted into the United States Code and made official, leaving the Silver Star Service Flag overlooked.  A new Silver Star Service Flag and Banner were designed and were quickly accepted widely used throughout the United States. The United States House of Representatives passed H Res. 855, a stand-alone resolution on April 21, 2010, making the SSFOA Silver Star Service Banner official and making May 1 Silver Star Service Banner Day. {Courtesy National Day of Calendar}

I’m glad the U. S. as a whole has come to the conclusion that our service members should be recognized and thanked, whether we agree with the conflict they have been involved in or not. Why we are involved in a conflict is an argument to be taken up with our government. When a new military member raises their hand and says they will serve, they are expected to take orders and follow them without question. It isn’t their choice where they go or if they want to do what is expected of them. It is a sacrifice from the very beginning, family days no longer exist, and staying close to home is a rarity.

When a service member returns from assignment, or finishes their enlistment, they often come home with visible and invisible scars. It’s easy to recognize a facial scar, or missing limb. It’s not easy to recognize what they are now calling “brain trauma”. That refers to the emotional wounds from being involved in combat; what they had to do to survive, or what they saw happen right next to them. War is ugly, sometimes expectations in a non-war zone are just as ugly.

I share this in case you don’t have any personal connection to someone who has served in our military, in an attempt to educate. Our service members deserve recognition and that is what the Silver Star Service Banner Day is all about.

 

Thank an Author

This day was originally designated to thank the many authors that you lean on for entertainment, a bit of learning and for filling many hours with new friends and characters you can’t forget.

I have a new reason to thank an Author. In my quest to become a published author myself, I have joined a local writing group whose members are already published. Each month they have a speaker that teaches a fundamental of the writing process. One such talk was about “building the world” or location of the story and the characters will come automatically. I tried it, it works! Another talk was about build your hero and heroine so you know how they will act in a situation. How do you do that? Say you name your hero Jim Bob because the story is set years ago in the Tennessee hills. If you plan ahead on paper his looks, personality, religion, birth position, education, whether he likes animals, etc., as you write about the situations Jim Bob finds himself in, you will know how he would act. It really is that easy. I learn something useful at every meeting.

On a personal level, one of the authors has helped me learn some key ways to shorten my sentences while at the same time making them more active. It was a “trick” I knew nothing about, yet is so simple once someone shows you how to do it. I am indebted to B.L. She has quickly become a friend and mentor.

The fact authors want to help other authors be successful by helping them learn how to write better has made me thankful in a whole new way. I am now reading their books with a new appreciation. It is a big rush to be able to tell my family and friends, “The lady that wrote this book is a friend of mine.”

The next time you read a book by your favorite author take a minute to think about who helped him/her become a better writer and maybe even send them a thank you note for a story that touches your soul.

 

Freedom Isn’t Free

Currently there is a national push to thank our military personnel, past and present, for their service.  That’s a wonderful thing, because freedom isn’t free.  Sometimes it’s hard to understand why we have “boots on the ground” in some places we know little about.  Our government makes the decision where our troops go.  We don’t have to agree with that decision, but I ask that you support the troops regardless.

Have you ever noticed a small rectangular white flag in the window of a house in your neighborhood?  If that flag has a blue star in the middle it means an active duty military person calls that address home; one of the parents hung that flag with a feeling of pride.  If the flag has a gold star, it means the military member made the ultimate sacrifice with his or her life for the United States of America.

Think about that a minute and relate it to your own life.  Can you call, skype, text, or visit your child at will?  Some parents can’t.  They go to the cemetery and cry, shake their head with disbelief, and imagine the next holiday without their child in attendance.  Does the hurt of losing a child ever go away?  No.  It becomes tolerable over time because you learn to deal with it, but it never goes away.  (We buried a daughter, 13 years ago, when she was 27, after an auto accident; that’s how I know.)

We have many freedoms in this country that other countries do not enjoy.  Are we perfect? Far from it.  Probably never will be, but at least we don’t have a civil war tearing at us night and day like Syria does.  Be thankful for that.  Be thankful for the relative peace we do have.  Be even more thankful for the military that keeps us safe in ways we will never know about.  And the next time you see a little white rectangular flag in someone’s window say a silent prayer the blue star never gets replaced by a gold one; if it is already a gold one, remember, freedom isn’t free and that family has paid the price.

There are Gold Star Mother groups in many cities all over the country.  Visit   http://www.goldstarmoms.com    to find one near you.  They can help a parent deal with loss.

I wrote this from a parent’s point of view because that is what I am.  It can also be turned around that it is the child going to visit their parent in the cemetery.  Again.  Freedom isn’t free.

 

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